M83 - Saturdays = Youth

Album cover

  1. You Appearing (3:39)
  2. Kim & Jessie (5:23)
  3. Skin Of The Night (6:12)
  4. Graveyard Girl (4:51)
  5. Couleurs (8:34)
  6. Up ! (4:27)
  7. We Own The Sky (5:02)
  8. Highway Of Endless Dreams (4:34)
  9. Too Late (4:59)
  10. Dark Moves Of Love (3:18)
  11. Midnight Souls Still Remain (11:07)

EMI (France), 2008

Being a teenager, in general, sucks. As does much of the music people tend to listen to when the hormones start sloshing around. But just as fantasy and escapism can make life bearable at the time, by looking back with a nostalgic eye we can pick out the best parts and piece together a story of carefree, though occasionally tear-stained, youth. That's the approach Anthony Gonzalez takes for his latest grand creation, which evokes a romanticised 1980's high-school world, with an eye on movies like "The Breakfast Club" and his lavish sound now tinged with Tears For Fears and Duran Duran.

"Saturdays=Youth" is so successful because it goes beyond imitating 80s pop to exalting it, putting it on a pedestal. On the shimmering overture "You Appearing", the echoing harmonies multiply, until a heavily processed drum fill blasts us into the standout pop anthem "Kim and Jessie". This song of a spaced-out teen pair culminates in a searing guitar solo that takes us back to when "Songs from the Big Chair" was the biggest album of the decade. The two other glittering, single-worthy songs, "Skin of the Night" and "Up" feature singer and co-writer Morgan Kibby, who lends them a sweet yet powerful Kate Bush-like edge. But don't try and work out what the lyrics are. "She skims the sweat like a new milk" Eh? No, really, don't... "All of her soft parts call to me". Aaargh! Though such howlers are redeemed by the hilarious cemetery diary recital on the perky-goth tune "Graveyard Girl": "I'll read poetry to the stones, maybe one day I could be one of them, wise and silent...".

While the M83 instrumental sound isn't quite as intense or melodramatic as on "Before the Dawn Heals Us", it's more clean and precise, and their soundscaping flair (aided for the first time by a hired producer, Ken Thomas) and plain good tunes still shine. The thrilling centrepiece is the dance anthem "Couleurs", which motors forward like the best of New Order's "Substance". Dominating the latter half of the album, among a few nice, though routine by their high standards, breathy songs, is the luscious ballad "Too Late", which builds a tingling OK Computer-like melody up to a climax with dazzling synth notes that slice through the air. Finally the meditative ambient loop "Midnight Souls Still Remain" washes away all those messy hormones.

July 19, 2008

8 out of 10

See blog entry: WhyILoveM83 (19 Jul, 2008)

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